Meet Dr. Charles Whitten
Chair of Anesthesiology & Pain Management

Holder of the:
Margaret Milam McDermott Distinguished Chair in Anesthesiology and Pain Management

My family and I all receive our medical care at UT Southwestern. I cannot think of a better endorsement I could give. I know that if complications happen, they will be dealt with professionally by people who have dealt with them before.”

Trained in electrical and biomedical engineering as an undergraduate, Charles Whitten, M.D., now Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Management at UT Southwestern Medical Center, came to medical school by a different road than most. Only about 5 percent of students enter medical school with an engineering major, but among that group, many end up in surgery or anesthesiology, both arenas in which good decisions must be made quickly. Learning that way of thinking and solving problems that often cannot be seen is similar to the black box analysis familiar to engineers.

“Providing patient care is a lot like dealing with the black box. You’ve got symptoms coming out of the box, and you’ve got to figure out what in the box is not working,” says Dr. Whitten. “The analytical skills I learned in engineering, asking why and knowing how to solve problems, all have served me well as an anesthesiologist, a clinical researcher, and as an administrator. It’s a way of thinking that I look for in new faculty and in students.”

Dr. Whitten became Chair of the Department of Anesthesiology and Pain Management in 2008, inheriting an extraordinary legacy of achievement in clinical research and discovery, physician training, and clinical care. Now, he is focused on building the Department to meet the needs of patients in the 21st century.

“We have team members in every operating room on campus, plus the VA Hospital, as well as sites at Children’s–Legacy and Children’s–Southlake,” he says. “The Department plays a major role in the coverage of acute and chronic pain services, as well as services in the intensive care units across our clinical footprint.”

“Demand for the Department’s clinical expertise has been exploding as more and more subspecialties take on therapies that require some level of anesthesia support outside the operating room. I want patients to know that we are dedicated to patient-centric practice, a fundamental principle underpinning all our efforts, no matter how much we grow,” says Dr. Whitten.